A history lesson from Ruth Patterson

During this week’s Belfast City Council debate on the placing of the Union Flag on driving licences (something that the council has absolutely no control over), firebrand DUP Councillor Ruth Patterson decided to enlighten all those present with her interpretation of history and how it relates to the vexed subject of ‘flegs’.

Scholars may be somewhat alarmed by Councillor Patterson’s interpretation of history as indeed may some of her creationist colleagues in the DUP who subscribe to the view that the world was created in 4000BC when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Perhaps they still do.

During her full 10 minute polemic available here Councillor Patterson takes time to review the movie American Sniper, talk about “the massacre of the protestants” and describe Gerry Adams as “well read and poised.”

Not to be missed.



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  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Only worrying for some people Mick, what a world it would be….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “my point is quite simple.
    unionism is built on a lie, wrapped in a sectarian blanket built on a swamp of quicksand. ”

    Which, if you read my post is EXACTLY my frickin’ point. If unionists started examining their history properly they’d find a lot of things that doesn’t it well with they’re modern outlook.

    The same applies to Irish nationalism too, a lot of inconvenient truths laying around.

    Now, do you understand me or are you going to post another post that disagrees with me by ultimately agreeing with me?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Probably! But my description, geeky, arty, long hair, glasses, moustache will get us nowhere as only the girls did not fit that description, and then only in the last feature. I used to hang about with a long faced poet who wore a lot of brown, and as you know, I knew and liked Cyril Toman, who pretty much was the PD in my estimation before Mick Farrell came back from Scotland. With the Labour Party Young Socialist crowd a lot, too (my link would have been through my Uncle’s local Labour Party affiliation).

    Not much of a speaker then myself, but try and stop me now……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The real problem is “competing histories”. Certainly the notion of an entirely objective history which discovers absolute truth as some kind of the “Final solution to the History Problem” is at best nonsense, at worst a power discourse, as so much academic “objectivity” seems to all too easily become. But accurate history, engaged in by fair minded people with good will does produce interseting twists that elucidate the present. Sir Charles Petrie, founder of the MHSI, which is one of the great non-alligned Historical societies in Ireland, called history a guide to the present and a signpost to the future.

    As in psycology, knowing where things begin, what their roots feed from, is one of the first things that will permit a return to health, in this case our own social and political health. I can be pretty flippant, sometimes, our situation even after long years of “peace” is far to grim to do without flipancy, but I sincerely believe in the freeing power for the entire community of engaging in the study of accurate and honest history. The most important thing in this is empathy for the “other” and a recognition of culpability for actions and events where this really applies, pretty much the opposite of the kind of partisan history you quite correctly describe as characterising history in this place today. While this “partisan history” may be “real”to those who have learnt it, it is certainly not in any way an “accurate” history in my sense.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Phil Flannigan, Debbie Coyle and Barry McElduff etc.


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Come on Morpheus, its not something to be taken at face value. Like the expensive recreation of the Gobbins path, its the dying Larne Councils final throw at making Islandmagee the Wee Six’s local equivalent of Disneyland!

    The witches are going to be a big, big tourist draw, and a spot on PantheCon 2015 ( has anyone else noticed the capitol “C” on the end bit?) would not do any harm. I’m sure we could get a few Larne councillors to man (or wo-man) the stall, with a few copies of Andrew Sneddon’s excellent (and seriously researched) new book on the real historical happenings of 1711. I’m surprised Jackie McKee has not read it yet, considering his interest! Perhaps £12.99 was too steep a price.


    Perhaps Jackie (boy not girl, or was the last time I saw him) should attempt to get in touch with the pagan group on Islandmagee who (anecdotally) carry on the “Old Ways”, I’m told they are always looking for new members. And they are reputedly nature worshipers rather than taking Anton Le Vey’s lush road to old Horney’s door. Why am I getting these flash backs to the unicorn alsatian in the Rab C. Nesbitt episode?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually the Dannites are the ancestors of the present day Ulster Protestants. They landed in Carrickfergus (I’ve forgotten the actual date, but quite a wee while back) according to local British Israelite theory. The later Gael invader was sadly of inferior stock and do not share in the destiny of the Cruthan, the descendants of the Dannites. So that’s me put in my place!

    It’s amazing what one picks up in damp big-house libraries over dull weekends! Such information, like skill at snooker, is the sure sign of a badly misspent youth.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe, like AG says, I think we need to highlight all the nonsense no matter which direction its coming from and affirm some decency and tolerance outside of party lines. As carl says “every time a nationalist politician or figure does or says a stupid thing, post it!” Goodness knows, even with a more slick PR savvy, SF still offer enough hostages to fate that way! Just as much “lie on your belly with your toes in the air” simply better hidden under awfully effective slick-speak.

    Go, gettem tiger!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ming has always been given a pretty bad press consistently by the media. His social policies really need to be looked at properly with a really objective eye. I note that he has not been included in the election debates.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve mentioned Francis Hutcheson the philosopher on the Philip Orr thread. His father was picked to laise between the local Kirk elders and the Dutchman in 1688/9. He spent weeks and weeks sitting outside of the room William was working in. No great priorityfor the Dutch Usurper this wee place.

  • carl marks

    and I wonder did we ever bump into each other back in the day, small world eh!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m glad you posted that AG. For some time now Tyrone Tribulations has offered important and little publicised insights into what is really going on in that county. It certainly deserves to be much better known. I have been posting links to significant political figures I know or an acquainted with on both sides of the Atlantic for some time now.

  • carl marks

    some of the best Journalism on the island!

  • carl marks

    yep, and he like Ruth will be re-elected and Joe will complain that people have a twisted sectarian agenda when people have the cheek to report it when they come out with certifiable dribble and call it history, religion or culture.

  • $136050377

    Do the rules say if has to be Anti Sinn Fein to get thru?.I notice a heck of a lot of YOUR rules that are observed more in the breach when your regulars are doing the breaking.
    don’t worry I can live with British hypocrisy..Maybe Unionists are British after all eh? who knew

  • Kevin Breslin

    Run her and South Belfast and Alasdair McDonnell will not be threatened by a pan-unionist pact, he’d probably be elected by a pan-unionist pact.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nothing about how it was the Ulster Scots who freed the Colonies in the States from British rule, I take it?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Spend a day reading through a lot of back threads at one sitting, ams918. Both “sides” get a pasting where they ask for it, and I’d say that, as Joe_Hoggs says the Unionists come off worst if comments are considered only in terms of numbers posted.

    I’ve been accused of nefariously supporting just about every shade of opinion myself by those who’d flashed up “opposition” on something I’ve posted here. It’s pretty much one of the few sites seriously arguing points about the wee six where an entire range of opinions can engage in discussing matters with one another, without it all descending into cat calling (although that too occurs sometimes). SF has many strong and intelligent voices arguing its case on the site and I’ve supported and opposed most of them at one time or another.

    The whole point is that no one can simply put up an opinion without it being questioned, and in this manner we all get to understand one another rather better, or at least that’s the idea.

    But enough of that, I’m sure Mick can answer this much better and with far fewer words!

  • $136050377

    If your home floods that because of Gays..Didn’t some Unionist get a gong from the Queen for blaming a storm in America on Homosexuals..So there you go.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No Kevin, that was our own wee Francis Hutcheson single handed, as I’ve said over on Philip Orr’s piece!

    Hey, don’t the Ulster Scots claim him?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And some of the most accurate!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed, ams918, Israel is an even more expensive “hobby” for the United States than the wee six are for Westminister!

    Roll on cold nuclear fusion…….

  • $136050377

    It’s a unionist..engaging in public speaking..They’d have to use it all the time.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m not sure (just can’t be bothered looking it up) but I don’t think that, as I remember it, he is in the new Ballymena line up. Quite a few of the old Larne council fell away in the election, and I think he’s one.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, I got your point exactly, Morpheus, I just could not resist one of my digressions, knowing something of the local scene here in the “grim wee place” as I do, in these final days of the Larne Fuhrerbunker! Remember, I’m the geek who reads all the footnotes before even starting the book, don’t ye know?

    And, hey, it’s probably not the most irrational thing that any of the Larne representatives actually believes!

    Good book by Andy Sneedon, though. It outlines how Whig and Tory interests in Queen Anne’s Carrickfergus divided on the very issue of the credibility of these things, and the possible injustice of trying men and women on these charges. Now, three centuries later……

  • Guest

    Camera Person is thinking “Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the Right, here I am stuck in the middle of pews”

  • $136050377

    Thanx..But I’m just passing thru.
    I really just came on to discus the effects of the stormont house.
    i.e the sale of 80,000 council homes and The train service and the harbour.
    There were articles about this..But none about how this will affect the border.
    For example if they create 80,000 NEW home owners..Won’t these more likely vote to end partition..So to increase their property values? And play 26 county property porn?
    If they are playing the property game,,,That would be a logical development..
    What happens if Irish Rail take over the Rails?
    Or if Dublin Port or Cork take over Belfast port?
    another nail in the coffin for Orange Order anti Irish agenda.
    This would be interesting to digest.
    Also after 2015 budget cuts..the only 2 arguments that unionists have in favour of partition are : “superior services” and the Orange violent backlash.
    Well it seems to have escaped everybody’s attention that Britain has a 90% debt/GDP ratio which is dangerous for them. And a £100 Billion a year deficit.
    So, even if the Brits wanted to fund the wee 6…It simply cannot do so.
    Very few people are aware of these facts 2015 to 2020 will see services cut
    and that argument against partition will be gone. Civil service jobs are going.
    This is all I wanted to talk about.
    But most people’s head is in the sand.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    What lie is Unionism built on?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey, man, there are some very brilliant points in there. Hang about, watch how the threads go and keep posting! “26 county property porn” is something I’d have been proud to put up for one thing! Help pull a few heads out of the sand. Or even something rather more unpleasant than simple sand.

    Cerberus and Blackstone have bought up most of the viable NAMA stuff here just a while back and the renewed house of cards Big Property Boom is looming, with all, and I mean ALL, that means. Hang about…..

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Absolutely Seaan, I have no issues with Unionists being lampooned and goodness knows Ruth is a very deserving target. My point is however that there are very prominent Sinn Fein members who clearly are either just not very bright (Phil Flannigan) or who have a screw loose (Barry McElduff) who rarely or never get ridiculed.

    I will give one such example, Phil Flannigan when questioned by the Fermanagh Herald as to why he spent £400 using his MLA expense’s allowance to purchase artificial plants simply said “That amount doesn’t sound right. That figure doesn’t ring a bell. I didn’t think it was that much”. What sort of response is this??

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe, when I see something like that I note it and pull it out when something similar comes up on a thread here.

    The only reason that Unionism get so hit on Slugger is that there is no systematic organisation of putting forward such points by most of those trying to state the Unionist case, most other Unionist posters going on the angry defensive (or the passive aggressive) and not getting into arguing a case point by point, simply doing a sterile Paisley style “NO”. I’ve recently been simply slammed down by some of those disagreeing with me, not the way to get anyone to start thinking about the strong points of Unionism. There is a good Unionist case, just as there is a good Nationalist case, on many issues. Sometimes issues should be argued without bringing either football shirt to the discussion. And when real argument is intelligently engaged with, this is where we get to show up the opponents dirty under ware (“all in the best possible taste” of course).

    I keep trying to get one of my distant cousins, an Old Tory McMillan style Unionist who lives in London, to post on Slugger, against me preferably! He ties me in knots every time we talk, half eleven at night in Fulham and its like a roller coaster ride every few exchanges! And it would save me a lot of trouble with emails.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps an integrated school would have helped! the few times I filled in at the art department at one an interesting lot of Protestant kids were learning Irish! She might have got a bit of “accurate” history too (see above for definition). In my experience, you cannot approach a serious study of early modern history in the island without some Irish. Oh dear, can of worms, lid off………

  • puffen

    To be fair, I did not hear her claim direct lineage to the builders of Newgrange, though she is just as entitled to as anybody else, except the builder of my garage who made of with the wife.lol

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I have to ask, these people that you mention, are they mainly Fermanagh based?

    Although no excuse, I have to point out that I’m perfectly ignorant of such people. If they end up on the BBC then I might have heard of them.

    I fear there is a tremendous bias in the highlighting of idiocy which means that an idiot from Donaghadee (no names) or Markethill/Newtonhamilton will receive more attention than an idiot from darkest Fermanagh or Tyrone.

    For what it’s worth, a SF councillor from Mid Ulster used to post a lot of idiotic MOPEry on here and Mick threatened to ban me for getting stuck into him (not because he’s sympathetic to SF but rather I went over board).

    Point is, he raised his imbecilic head above the trenches and got what he deserved (or more so, according to Mick…)

    So yes, you have a point but if people could be made aware of such idiocy then I think you’ll see the spotlight shift accordingly.

    As an experiment, have you considered emailing/facebooking/tweeting to LAD or the Firemen every time a Fermanagh Shinner does something stupid?

    I recommend it, let’s see what happens.

  • carl marks

    how did the garage turn out!

  • carl marks


  • LordSummerisle

    During the discussion Alderman Christopher Stalford made ref to the opt out scheme and why no one on the opposite benches could support such a measure… here is my response

    In my honest opinion the Minister of the Environment, Mark H Durcan, has made the correct decision regarding the placing of the Union Flag on Northern Irish Driver Licences (or rather the not placing of the Union Flag on such a document). I doubt very much that this would be an issue if there was not an election coming up. The question of why was an “opt out” scheme not introduced has been raised on the floor of both the Assembly and no less an august body than Belfast City Council (which was an absurdity in its own right) with many of those of a Unionist persuasion complaining that this option would have been fair. Oh would that it was so simple in this part of the world. To paraphrase an old Belfast expression, even the dogs in the street know that such an idea is a nonsense.

    Imagine if you will how absurd such an outcome would be, those of a more bigoted mindset would no longer demand the individual to pronounce the letter H or indeed question which foot one digs with, rather they would simply have to look at the individuals Drivers Licence. The result he/she is labelled as one thing or the other.

    In this part of the world people are very fond of labelling and categorizing individuals according to their own beliefs and the opt out scheme would only enhance the ability of those people who are fond of such activities to do so. That is why “opt out” was a no go.

  • turquoise_unionist

    Well said Ruth Patterson, it was us prods that built Newgrange and it’s time everybody knew it! It was originally called NewOrange before those pesky celts changed one of the letters. The fact it was built so close to the Boyne should have been the giveaway! :-O

  • babyface finlayson

    Hopefully an integrated school would teach the correct usage of ‘went’ and ‘gone’ at least!
    I’m looking at you Croiteir.

  • carl marks


  • puffen

    At sunrise there is a beam of light through the swing door, !

  • carl marks

    LOL, all year round on just on the day they legged it!

  • LordSummerisle

    I thought Newgrange was built in the 1970s ?

  • carl marks

    I think the renovation work was on going in the seventies,

  • LordSummerisle

    That is why it looks so new and shiny 🙂

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Fermanagh based with the exception of McElduff who is from Omagh. It;s interesting that the Fermanagh Herald a primarily Nationalist paper chose to tackle recent expenses issues and expose Flannagen for overindulgence and at best pure ignorance and worst down right stupidity.

  • carl marks

    care to give us a list of those you would permit to post here joe (if you had the power) and of course a list of those you would censor!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Hi Joe

    “What lie is Unionism built on?”

    First of all, we should define unionism. Now, you and I (as you recall) have different interpretations of what defines a unionist e.g. mine: someone who votes pro-union, yours: someone with a more culturally unionist background.

    So, for sake of this chat, let us assume your definition to be the bone fide interpretation.

    I don’t really know where to begin, so I’ll start randomly;


    As we all know, the UVF was formed to intimidate all movers and shakers regarding the Home Rule question, whether they be Irish Home Rulers or British pragmatists (such as Churchill). They quite clearly stated in written form that their
    loyalty had limits which (for reasons I understand, my great great grandfather was involved in the Larne gun running) led to the hitherto unimaginable idea of openly disregarding the Crown.

    This ‘loyalty’ led to the creation of other militias and encouraged nationalist ideas to the extent that the Easter Rising was but an inevitability.

    Yes, unionist ‘loyalty’ helped to create the Easter Rising. They were only loyal to themselves, not the King, that is the first lie.
    Their defiance was so brazen that some nationalists thought that they might even come on board regarding Home Rule eventually.

    In some Orange banners you will see the visage of Cromwell.

    Cromwell was a proto-Republican. The only republican to rule over a united Ireland at that.

    Supporting him makes no sense from a Crown loyalty point of view.

    Yes, he was Protestant, but he hated Presbyterians and tore them up in Scotland and in Ireland.

    The modern cultural unionist view that we were all singing from the same hymn sheet is a lie.

    He hated us. He wasn’t fussed on the Crown either. Two things allegedly important to modern unionism.

    Finally, as a foot note, for an example of Presbyterian loyalty look into the American War of Independence, according to a Hessian mercenary;

    “Call this war, dearest friend, by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scottish-Irish Presbyterian rebellion”

    It didn’t take long before we (Ulster Presbyterians) had another crack at the Crown elsewhere.

    You’re also very aware of Henry Joy Mccracken and Roddy McCourley et al so I won’t go over that old ground.

    From the very minute Scottish Presbyterians sat foot on ulster soil they have been a nuisance to the Crown. (I assume you allow me to include Ulster Presbyterians as the heir apparent to Unionism?)


    A lot of cultural unionism has its roots in the Williamite wars. You yourself on this very site has highlighted that some of the modern interpretations of this era are codswallop e.g. James II dying at Scarvagh when he was alive and well and
    fat in France.

    Other myths include the elevation of Walker and the relegation of Lundy.

    Lundy was an experienced commander who had helped defend Tangiers against the French. He knew his stuff. Walker did not.

    Walker (and Baker) wanted Lundy to return after he was cast out on his ear. Lundy probably did not want to be there and was perhaps a ‘loyalist’ (in the true sense of the word) as opposed to a Williamite, who was, lets face it the poster boy for banks, merchants and the city of London (look into the history of the Bank of England or read Proff Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’).

    In Orangedom we’re taught how William said ‘truly this is a land worth fighting for’ when probably he was really thinking “right lads, as soon as we’re done here we can get back to the real war”.

    We also conveniently forget that a number (if not all) of the 13 apprentice boys spoke Gaelic.

    We also forget how Walker wrote out the contribution of the Presbyterian/Scots defenders.

    We also forget that Lundy was exonerated and later exchanged for a number of prisoners after a battle in Portugal (though probably that had more to do with his high
    born status).


    We have put up barriers between modern cultural unionism and old school Ulster culture:

    “We in Northern Ireland are not Irish – we do not jig at crossroads”-John Taylor

    Even the laziest investigation into Ulster Protestant culture (bedrock of Unionism) would show that we did. All over the frickin’ place. http://www.amazon.com/Handed-Down-Country-Fiddling-Dancing/dp/1908448512

    Same applies to fiddle dances, Shinty/hurling/Cammanachd http://www.amazon.com/Camanachd-Story-Shinty-Roger-Hutchinson/dp/184158326X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423175060&sr=1-1&keywords=camanachd, piping of every variety and to a lesser extent speaking Gaelic.

    Ask a unionist to talk about the Ulster 36th and they’ll never mention the Gaelic speakers. They prefer to give the impression that there were none within its ranks. That is a lie in itself.


    One of the main justifications for NI’s existence is the fear of a confessional state.
    Never does the thought occur that a confessional state would simply not have been possible with 1 million zealous (and armed) Protestants at large on the island.
    Not only that, this community had significant influence over the British army (e.g. the Brookes), all industry and banking.

    As well as being armed to the teeth.

    Such a threat were we that we had to be recognised by the most powerful Empire on Earth, yet, political unionism would have us believe that if NI was not conceived then we’d
    all be somehow expelled or converted to Catholicism.
    That does not make sense.

    Joe, this is just off the top of my ugly massive head, if you want more then just ask.

    It took years of digging for me to find this stuff but I, unlike many other unionists simply can’t ignore it.

    Sorry for the rant, but, you did ask


  • Joe_Hoggs

    Great post.

    Lundy is more of a metaphor within Protestant circles rather than an individual character assassination. I would like to read up more on his life though, where can I do this?

  • Abucs

    “If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger.”

    – George Washington, Valley Forge, War of independence.

  • Paddy Reilly

    A small caveat here: a lot of what was considered witchcraft in olden days was in fact just poisoning. So it is perfectly possible that people accused of witchcraft were in fact poisoning the accuser. In other cases the accuser was certainly suffering from paranoia. So examining the facts related to a particular accusation would not go amiss.

  • Paddy Reilly

    The lie of two Irelands.

    The lie of two nations.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Joe, I’d recommend ‘The men that God Made Mad’.

    Now, only the first bit revolves around Lundy and what I would say is that the author does have a bit of a ‘slant’ regarding the topic, because he is, quite literally a Lundy, Derek Lundy to be precise.



    As for more in depth articles I’m going to have to pass you over to Seaan Ui Neill for that…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Morpheus, sorry to muddy the water again, but some serious cross disciplinary work (anthropology/history) has been done to research the Scots Witch records as expressions of a native shamanistic nature tradition. Reading the records of the trials it becomes obvious that many of these woman genuinely believed what they were speaking of. You do not have to subscribe to old horney or to elves to see that simply to accept that self indiced or group induced hallucination occurs explains the “reality” of the experience for them.

    Emma Whilby has gone back to the Auldern Witch Trials and produced a fasinating and provocative reinterpretation of Scottish witchcraft by examining in considerable detail the world of very, very poor, marganalised women seemingly developing their own hidden transcripts of private or small group sexual and social resistence to the intense Puritanism of the status quo of their day. As the blurb on Emma’s book puts it:

    “with recent research into Amazonian ‘dark’ shamanism, false-memory generation and mutual-dream experience, along with literature on marriage-covenant mysticism and protection-charm traditions, all being brought to the investigation of early modern witch-records for the first time.”


    I come on material such as this because the seventeenth century is very much my period of research. But I must also say that I entirely agree with you that Jackie and his like are entirely as you characterise them, the essensial sillyness and credulity of their reaction to the history here is self-evident, but I’m much more interested in what might actually have occured, and its implications for power structures and moral resistance to oppression.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe you’ll have to await until my entire reapprasial of the 1688/9 civil war here is in print. I’ve produced what I think is the only real attempt ot describe Lundy’s complex motives in any real detail.

    It is important to remember that no-one in the elite ruling circles in William’s lifetime ever considered him to actually be a king. He was their appointee, called “king” for convenience, and many supporting him were old Oliverian republicans (he entered Salisbury in 1688 “surrounded by seventeen notorious republicans”). A number of the Anglican bishops whose trial sparked off William’s invasion refused to take the oath to him as king and split to create a seperate non-juring Anglican Church whose Bishops had not broken their oath to their legitimate king. Lundy was a man torn between natural self-interest and his oath of loyalty, a profoundly serious moral delima for men who genuinely believed that they could not simply walk away from denying an oath, and that such an act was moral equivelent to denying Christ

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Morpheus, I know that’s your point. Perfectly true for the answering the knuckle heads of today. But the point I’m making is the “Chinese ball” point (reality lying inside another reality, inside yet another). I’m attempting to show that history itself is more complex than the devil worshiper/no witches ever equation. You may not think “witches existed”, and they certainly did not exist as servants to old horney as in Jackie’s version, but if Emma Wilby is correct, “witches” themselves believed that they existed, on their own terms, as a resistance strategy to the religious and political status quo. For me this makes wee jackie McKee’s regurgitation of the simplified opinions of the seventeenth century even more culpable, he is not only misdirecting the present but he is actively silencing the truth of the past. Work such as Emma’s is important in order to give a voice to the otherwise silenced dead, validifying their genuine experience, so that the ignorant misunderstanding of the opinions and actual lives of long dead people by contemporary prejudices (such as Jackie’s) is not permitted to deny us knowledge of our own cultural “deep memory”.

    It is just as important not to be trapped in the prejudices of “modernity” and “progress” as it is to be free of the prejudices of unthinking conservatism. Describing this silencing of the past by progressivist ahistoricism (“the enemy”) Walter Benjamin says:

    “Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.”

    For me there is no inherent value in countering Jackie’s obviously one dimensional view of the witch phenomena, if it is only to silence the real experience of long dead people in return. Obviously, if Emma’s research is correct, there were real “witches”, it is simply that the interpretation of them by seventeenth century Christians has been simply a spoiler for both sceptic “realist” and puritan “Christian” alike. While they in all probability “did not have the ability to conjure ghouls and goblins” they did have an inner imaginative life that others used to stigmatise them. A bit like Emma Goldman and myself, with the human freedom thing.

  • carl marks

    tell you what, put him (AG) in his box, tell us were he is wrong.
    oh and by the way he was asked to point out the lies unionism was built on, I am sure the same guy could do as good a job on republicanism. but as I say it’s easy to snipe that us have a few facts, go on fill your boots

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well intended arguements albeit one sided, surely there are parallels within Irish nationalism as well. Most obviously the heavy involvement of Protestants in political Irish self-determination and Irish cultural identity, as well as landed gentry Protestants who did fight for Catholic Emancipation. Also Sinn Féin’s initial royalist stance, Catholic sectarianism and violence against Protestants, and far right Catholic fascists like the Blueshirts trying to hold the Irish government to account and the early AOH.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Prods invented Irish nationalism.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Whatever it was, you must have scared him off!

  • mickfealty

    Nope. The rules are there for all to see. If you see someone breaking them, let me know. Either way, I hope I’ve been clear enough.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    If it happened it happened, not my fault.

    Also, he didn’t ask for a post about nationalist myths, only unionist ones.

    Why get upset when someone asks a question and it is answered in the same context?

    But, just for you:



    Mythology and idiocy work both ways, but it helps when you can see it in ‘your own’ side.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Yes Kevin, spot on, but Joe didn’t ask for the nationalist equivalent, hence I didn’t give it (thought to be fair, you’ve got a much better grasp of it than I have)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “In AG’s partisan “rant” ”

    Blogger: “AG, what do you like about Ben and Gerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream?”

    AG: “Well, it’s quite rich, creamy etc etc”

    BRONZEECHOTWOFIVE: “Look how bloody biased AG is towards Ben and Gerry’s! He was asked specifically about their product yet failed to mention Haagen Das or Morrellis, he is therefore obviously biased against Haagen Das and Morrellis”

    Or he was just asked about a particular subject which he then answered…

    If you have a particular subject that you would like to discuss I shall (hopefully) extend you the same courtesy, do we have any guarantees that you won’t flip the topic on its head if you’re asked about a specific topic?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    This is simply avoiding the issues AG has highlighted, BETF. You need to answer what he is saying point by point if you want to criticise him with any credibility.

    Also it is highly inaccurate to say “Radical protestants were estranged from nationalism in the decades following 1798 because of drift to a position where nationalism was defined as equating to Catholic and gaelic.” Even the Irish Ireland movement was only “Catholic and Gaelic” in the head of D.P. Moran. The “Irish Ireland” of those in the north, influenced by Frank Bigger, drew on our strong liberal inclusivest eighteenth century tradition and I’ve called it “Irish Ireland lite” in my own writings to distinguish it from D.P. Moran’s misleading hyperbolic version. Right up to 1915 projects such as the Gaelic League were apolitical, and (despite what some revisionist historians claim) non-sectarian. Even the extreme political polarisation after that date still did remove Protestant involvement from the project of Irish nationalism, and certainly all the significant writers from both communities have tended to be culturally Irish, but certainly not in any “usuns and themuns” sense.

    Wolfe Tone is a complex figure, I’d not put money on where he’d hang his hat today, but I doubt it would be Loyalism. But I doubt he would characterise AG’s long posting as a “partisan rant.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I can highly recommend Robert Graves ‘ novels “Sargent Lamb of the Ninth” and “Proceed, Sargent Lamb”, for a well researched and considerably less star struck “take” on the Scots Irish in that war.

    Sir Charles Petrie tells of meeting one of the Larne gun runners with his father. “We were saved by one William and will call on another (the Kaiser).” When his father realised, on the way home, that his son was shocked by this interpretation of “loyalty” he told him “Nothing new there. In the 1870s they used to speak of kicking the Queen’s crown into the Boyne if she offended them.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A delightfully scurrilous book is Rev. Charles Leslie’s “An answer to a book [by William King, Bishop of Derry], intituled, ‘The State of the Protestants in Ireland under the late King James’s government, etc.’ ” Leslie was active against Tyrconell in 1688, but loyal to James, and became a Non-Jurer. The book is a delightful run through all the lies and propaganda that Bishop William King wrote in support of the Williamite Revolution. All supported by very interesting printed documents. My favourite is the plan to dispossess all Protestants who had fled in 1688 and re-distribute their land to staunch Williamites from England. No wonder poor Robert Lundy felt that honest non-sectarian King James was a far safer bet!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m aware that this version is now canonic, but it is only sustained by writing history backwards from current prespectives. Most of the Protestant community through the nineteenth centurywere not so much Unionist and anti Catholic, as simply status quo-ists in a British Ireland.

    The 1798 switch over myth is all rather smoke and mirrors. But it might take quite a lot of space to explain just how inaccurate it is.

  • carl marks

    mick please don’t take this wrong, but your pic has a bit of Ming about it, ;-0

  • carl marks

    if he is available, maybe he could help out here,

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Your ice cream analogy is dishonest.

    In your original contribution the partisanship is obvious in your simplistic avoidance of any reference to context whatsoever. Now this may be ok when talking about ice cream, other things, including local politics, require a tad more nuance.

    Nope, it’s bang on, Joe got what Joe asked for.

    I had no need to give any kind of flipside and insult the man’s intelligence by telling him what he already knows about those days, I’m sure like most Orangemen he’s well versed in the topic of the formation of the UVF and furthermore I did hint at an understanding of their point of view when I included my great grandfather’s role (probably minor as it was) in the Larne gun running, unsurprisingly you chose to ignore this or will probably just resort to belittling it even if you do acknowledge that I hinted as such.

    That’s what you’re deliberately missing from this topic and using to paint my contribution as bias when it was simply a jumble of unpopular truths that many people from the Orange side of the fence may be ignorant of.

    As it happens, an Orangeman (district level) near my parents’ home has recently taken to reading ‘subversive literature’ (i.e. Irish history books) and has become quite irate at the poor level of proof needed to jack up partisan opinions within the unionist community.

    And guess what, he’s still an Orangeman and a unionist, exposing the truth and realising that not everything was the fault of the taigs has not dampened his political nor religious convictions.

    Questioning unionist history won’t turn you into a shinnerbot.
    Protestants were once upon a time quite good at questioning convention…

    “Neanderthal is as Neanderthal does I suppose.

    I am struck by the similarity in response from you (unionist) and AMS918 (a nationalist).

    You both took exception to my posts claiming that they were biased in favour of one political side (contrasting sides at that), spat the dummy out and resorted to name calling.
    Two sides of the same coin….

    I think both narratives (ugh!) have weaknesses that should be highlighted and whether that be the rebelliousness/disloyalty of the UVF or the short-sightedness of the Easter rebels it matters not, they’re both fair game, sacred cows or not.

    It’s the unionist thought police like you who take exception to anyone willing to question the ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right’ mentality that has led to the current unionist stagnation.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Witches may not exist, but poisoners still do. So some of those accused of witchcraft may well have been guilty.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, BETF, I do not hold the historical truth (what I’d call “the Final Solution”) in these matters, it’s simply that these enormous reifications “The Protestants”, “The Catholics”, “The Irish”, etc, hide very convoluted, complex attitudes when researched properly. Using them, however, always encourages us all to think in cartoons, where things happen in big solid moves, the kind of thing lampooned in “1066 and All That”.

    Of course we cannot do without them if we are to examine and discuss history, but they are like morphene, and any serious person coming into contact with the stuff should be wary of possible addiction and consequent delerium.

    In order to say these things credibly you would need to have had a census of attitudes across the community, this however does not exist. Until recently, using elite attitudes has been the “sensor of opinion” historians have substituted, so when elite politics shifted to a British perspective after the closing of the old Dublin parliament, and new popular dissidence failed to manifest on the degree the United Men had, it was cosidered that attitudes had changed, but this is very, very thin evidence at best! A much better sensor for attitudes would be the growth of the Orange Institution. This really only took off after the Johnston of Killybegs business, and its history for the first half of the nineteenth century is far from uncontested in the Protestant community. The small local flash squabbles between rural Freemasonry, were Catholics and Protestants continued to meet as equals until Catholics were compelled to renounce Masonry by their church, and the Order, tells a much more interesting story of the older tolerant tradition in direct confrontation with a self-interest grouping.

    And the early nineteenth century records of my own family, along with many other liberal Protestant families showed quite a different picture to the canonic shift in attitudes.

    Serious research has to be undertaken to unravel the real story of the political shift of this period. Simply making broad statements sich as “post 1798 the desire to maintain the link with the UK was championed increasingly in the vast majority of cases by Protestants” is unsustainable without serious detailed research and affirming this kind of generalisation simply muddies the waters, although should you wish to post credible sources in suport of this we could discuss it properly in more detail.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes Kevin, in general spot on. I’m from one of these liberal protestant families myself. Moran’s “Philosophy of Irish Ireland” with its Catholic/Nationalism equation has ensured that some academics can use such work to characterise the Irish Cultural Revival as an exclusivist project, but even a cursory study of the Irish Ireland activity in the north shows the liberal traditions of the eighteenth century very much alive and well in the Northern end of the Revival. Far too many of us are only too willing to pull on the football shirts and line up in the teams in our reading of our history. This is seldom borne out by honest research.

    Although I should say this team mentality would never even begin to apply to AG, in my estimation.

  • Kevin Breslin

    26 county property porn? Given NAMA’s previously held property portfolio in the North it seems many Northern Irish people already have.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “It’s the unionist thought police like you who take exception to anyone willing to question the ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right’ mentality that has led to the current unionist stagnation.”

    And it is only when they, both Unionist and Nationalist, begin to examine their history with some honesty that anyone who has taken the trouble to actually research history will even begin to take them seriously. Both narratives certainly have not only weaknesses but truly mendacious myths. That this taste for partisan inaccuracy has been encouraged by the espousal of the revisionist camp by successive Irish and British governments, and of the old crusted versions peculiar to them by most at the grass roots of both communities has slowed but not stopped the process of an honest examination of the evidence, little of which offers serious comfort to either end of the historical see-saw.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, Kevin, but we are now pretty much owned by the two named American interests!

    But I did find ams918’s delightful characterisation of the big property puff balls as “porn” spot on!

  • Kevin Breslin

    50 state property porn then?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Pilate saying “Quid est veritas” isn’t truth, or even gospel truth, or is it?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ah yes, but they keep themselves to preserving townland name recognition rather than Neo-lithic archeology.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Catholic Coalition was a funny thing on Facebook, but I think it was created by self-satirising Catholics

  • Joe_Hoggs

    And purchasing £400 plants at tax payer’s expense.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, it’s from Francis Bacon’s essay “Of Truth”. The opening sentences are:

    “What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them, as was in those of the ancients.”

    So I suppose agreeing with Janos is still rather qualified. My own answer to “what is truth” would echo Bacon a bit, it would certainly not be a final polished historical truth, but I still believe in a striving after historical accuracy, if not any final truth.

    “Jesting Pilate” is also the title of an Aldus Huxley travel book (1926, I think) with some interesting ruminations about what may be generally accepted and what is actually a more accurate understanding of things. I quote:

    “Can it be said that government by the people exists anywhere, except perhaps in Switzerland Certainly, the English parliamentary system cannot be described as government by the people. It is a government by oligarchs for the people and with the people’s occasional advice.”

  • Kevin Breslin

    Love this.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    51st state! (with every apology to Ronnie Yu’s excellent druggy Liverpool assasination film of the same name).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Wee bit more now I’m fully awake! What Bacon is referring to is Cynic Philosophy. It started with a pupil of Socrates, Antisthenes, but the most well known proponent was Diogenes, the man in the barrel who, when Alexander the Great tested the extent of his cynicism by asking the philosopher to request from the king anything he wanted, replied. “You could, I suppose, step over a bit and stop blocking out the sunlight.” The metaphor of tempting the Philosopher with the goods of this world (cynics were notoriously anti-materialist, and were so unconcerned about societies opinions they never washed), a symbolic shadow over our clear vision, something pretty much all of us suffer from, desire!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Ernekid, I was at the seminars at the British Museum where Simon James first put his big “yes and no” arguements for the idea of the Celts back in the 1980s. This was in reaction to support given by political interests in Europe towards presenting the Celts as some kind of proto European Superstate, something all Simon’s genuine researcher ” historical accuracy” genes rebelled at.

    Simon has a pretty good site up on the net argueing these points intellegently, while presenting it all for the popular reader (an almost impossible task he is most sucessful in):